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‘When he gets home, he can chill out’: A West Shore RCMP dog’s day in the life

A canine officer’s day could include helping with raids, sniffing for evidence or tracking suspects

After his West Shore RCMP shifts end, police dog Luthor goes back to the home of his handler Const. Dave Hough for some downtime with the family.

“He understands that when we’re going home, he can turn that part of his brain off and chill out and be a dog,” Hough said.

But if a call comes in at 3 a.m. for the duo to attend a crime scene, Luthor quickly switches into his police dog role.

“We’re both sound asleep and the phone rings, then five minutes later (we’re) driving down the road.”

Luthor and Hough are called upon to perform various police tasks, ranging from tracking down a suspect who fled a scene to participating in large-scale raids, such as January’s search of the Savages motorcycle clubhouse in Langford.

“We’ll get called for evidence searches, which could be a firearm or anything with human odour on it or anything potentially ditched by a suspect.”

Searching for a suspect or tracking down evidence is not as simple as waving a piece of clothing in front of the dog’s nose and then running off to find the person in question.

“That’s a bit of a movie thing, and the primary reason we can’t do that is we don’t typically have an item on hand,” Hough said.

The pair’s team is about to grow as they await a new police dog who is set to join the West Shore force after graduating from training.

Puppies turned police dogs are usually bred and raised by their handlers. After seven weeks, they’re weaned off their mothers and undergo various tests to see if they could be suitable canine officers. The police pups are then sent to an RCMP training facility in Alberta before they enter the field with their handler.

Hough has been a police dog handler for three years and was lucky to be in training at the same time as Luthor – the sixth puppy raised by the constable.

“I was fortunate when he became training age, I was starting my training on the course, so we went through the program together.”

During their training, the dogs will specialize in sniffing out drugs or bombs. The needs of the detachment they’re going to will determine what type of role they will ultimately fulfil.

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